DELAWARE WATER GAP IN WINTER

When I moved out east in March, a snowy  hike to Raymondskill Falls in the Delaware Water Gap was a stunning (and surprising) introduction to some of the beautiful parks of the Northeast. 

This area remains one of my favorite places out here and when my little sister flew into town from South Dakota, I was happy to bring her here and explore new areas I'd never seen before. The Delaware Water Gap spans the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania where the Delaware River cuts between a large ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. As we drove deeper into the park, we came across an amazing abandoned farm that might have been the highlight of the trip. Upon recommendation of our Airbnb host, we also did the easy short loop hike in George Childs State Park that crisscrosses over and along a series of waterfalls.

 

GRANITE KNOLLS

A tangential internet search perusing quarries in the NY/NJ area led me to the www.nynjtc.org/ site where you can search for hikes by  category like "quarry" or "cemetery" or "ruins." Very cool. This hike through Granite Knolls park up near Yorktown, NY is the site of a former quarry and farm with glacial erratics--huge strangely shaped boulders left behind by glacial ice--scattered across the park. You can find farm equipment, small pit quarries, and these massive sharp edged boulders a couple miles in from various trailheads.

Granite Knolls itself doesn't have it's own parking and trailhead, but we hiked in via the Yorktown Trailway--a wide path that parallels the Taconic State Parkway. We got a late start to the hike but decided to bring headlamps just in case we got caught in the dark. Well, we did. And right before dark we decided to book it straight down the mountain in an eastern direction towards the car instead of trying to follow the multiple different trails and intersections you have to pay attention to in the daylight to reach the Giant Boulder. Turns out this is a pretty fantastic way of getting from point A to point B in these woods--trees are sparse and thin and the trails are covered in leaves anyway, leaving you to keep a keen eye out for 5 different colors of blazes. 

ABANDONED GREENHOUSE IN SUMMIT

Florist extraodinaire and fellow greenhouse enthusiast Christina of flores del sol tipped me off towards an amazing overgrown abandoned gem in Summit, New Jersey. Hidden by overgrowth and trees behind some townhomes and across a creek, the creaking skeletal remains of "Carl's Greenhouse" remains. At dusk in the beginning of August, we were fending off massive spiders, hornets and the heebie jeebies, but it was totally worth even being rescued from having stepped in a bees nest to see the crumbling, cracking remains of the greenhouse. 

My affinity for abandoned spaces is inexplicable but always a huge draw in my explorations and hikes and occasional trespassing. There is something immensely spooky and special about tip toeing through these spaces, not even speaking a word, just hearing things crack and creek beneath your feet. The floors were littered with old plastic potting containers and broken glass from panes that had fallen from above. After seeing netting filled with broken glass above our heads I shivered at the thought of a gust of wind trembling this place and it was a humbling reminder of how stupid wandering abandoned spaces can be. 

LAKE WAWAYANDA WOODLAND SURPRISE

When I flew back home to Colorado for my sister's college graduation, my birthday quietly came and went with a sunset drive through Red Rocks with my father. Leave it up to Michael and my amazing friends to sneakily and stealthily plan a woodland birthday surprise when I returned back east. 

As they jumped out smiling from behind some trees at Wawayanda State Park, I just about cried and peed my pants. They had strung feather garlands in the trees, collected moss for the tables, and put together the most beautiful picnic spread I've ever seen in my life. This was the first time I've ever been surprised and I can't imagine feeling any luckier--my face hurt from grinning. 

 

MUD LAKE MINERS' SUPERTRAMP BUS

For the first time since I moved to Texas and then out east, I flew back home to Colorado to spend time with my family, watch my little sister graduate, and remember what altitude feels like. My first day back was spent tracking down the abandoned "Supertramp" bus dumped by the miners outside of Nederland. My father and I found this gutted bus two winters ago at the trail head of Mud Lake when we were cross country skiing around Caribou Ranch Open Space. Each time I see this bus I am compelled to rewatch Into the Wild. These shots were taken on my aunt's Canon T50 on Fuji Superia 200. 

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The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun...
— Christopher McCandless